Panel: The Linux Kernel – What's Next (Liveblog)

Ted T’so – CTO Linux Foundation
Greg Kroah-Hartman – Novell
Andrew Morton – Google
Keith Packard –

* 2.6.30
– now has a staging tree
– moving forward, focus will be on fixing what is already there.
– Intel stuff mostly “just works”. Lot of work going into ATi Radeon right now. nVidia is still not supporting native Linux efforts “at all”. Via is starting to engage the Linux community.
– each driver is a fairly concerted effort. There is a lot of silicon, complexity and logic in GPU’s these days.
– with most graphic stuff now in kernel, it’s easier to get started with small new experimental interesting projects.
* Filesystems
– ext4 – 2 community distros will ship in the near future with ext4 enabled. Fedora 11 may make it the default.
– most recent bugs have not involved data loss.
– ext4 really represents a short term safe solution, but is based on old technology. Long term there will be a different answer.
– btrfs and nilfs are two of those.
– Are there too many filesystems?
* Linux Next
– comprised of over 100 branches
– has taken a lot of work out of doing -mm. He’d like to see it get more uptake, but think it’s still been a success overall.
* Is there a point where the Linux kernel community gets too big?
– the velocity of change remains astounding.
– there have been a lot of new “silos” and even subsystems that have popped up that have not been vetted by any of the old timers. This can cause issues.
* Audience question: There is a big push to get things in mainline, but often when someone actually tries to do that they run into a lot of opposition. How can this be improved?
– touch the kernel core as little as possible (systemtap was used as an example) and if you do, the code better be *very* good. If it’s a new driver or small subsystem, send it to Greg for Linux Next.
– utrace ran into the chicken and egg problem. Not enough users to get merged, but difficult to get users before you are in mainline.
– Knowing how to push a patch to the kernel community makes a big difference.
* Where do we stand with tracing?
– part of the problem will be evangelizing that tracers exist in the kernel.
– there is a large amount of interest in tracing now. A lot of what is going on now is experimentation and we’re still learning. Documentation is still poor, but they continue to get more usable.
* Audience question: What is being done to foster the next generation of kernel maintainers?
– Is actually something some of the current core maintainers think about. Being welcome, open and honest is a lot of it.
– The code is complex and growing rapidly. Just getting to know the memory system well could take 6-12 months. It’s a serious time commitment,
* nftables
– what would a migration from iptables look like? A long process that would take 4+ years and would require serious vendor buyin. It has been done before.
– maintaining compatibility with the `iptables` command could help.
– in almost all cases, maintaining backward compatibility is a lot of work.
* A lot of new companies who never contributed to the Linux kernel are now doing so.
* There are now 1,200 contributors and the mix of sources is extremely varied.


Linux Foundation to Host Moblin (Liveblog)

Imad Sousou, Director of the Open Source Technology Center at Intel, explains the decision to have the Linux Foundation host the Moblin project.

* “Big corporations are not good shepherds of Open Source”
* “The Linux Foundation provides a vendor neutral forum where the project and its developer community can thrive”
* Despite giving up control, Intel will actually be dedicating more resources to Moblin moving forward, not less.
* There will be no disruption to the Moblin project
* Moblin was created because Intel want every OS to run the best on Intel platforms. The Atom processor was the impetus.
* What’s ahead in Moblin 2
– Fastboot:
today: 5 secs
goal: 2 secs
– Next generation UI’s
widget toolkits are not the right answer.
animation frameworks might be. Intel likes “Clutter”, which “allows you to develop apps using gaming technology”.
– Connection management using Connman

Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit

I’m in San Francisco for the 3rd annual Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit. I wasn’t able to attend the event last year, but I was at the introductory Summit and really enjoyed it. I know this blog has been quiet in the recent past, but posting frequency should return to normal moving forward.


Headed to SCaLE 7X

I’ll be heading to Los Angeles for the weekend to attend the Southern California Linux Expo. I’ve tried to make SCaLE a yearly trip and it’s one of my favorite Linux conferences. If you’ll be anywhere near LA February 20-22, I encourage you to stop by the Westin LAX. If you do make it to SCaLE, be sure to stop by the dotorg section of the expo floor and visit the LQ booth (#35). See you in sunny southern California.


Voting for the 2008 Members Choice Awards is Now Open

It’s that time once again. Voting for the 2008 Members Choice Awards is now open. The Members Choice Awards allow the Linux community to select their favorite products in a variety of categories. This is now the eighth year we’ve done the MCA’s, and we try to improve the polls every year. It involves striking a tough balance between having too many awards and having nominees in certain categories that quite simply are not directly comparable. There are 26 categories this year, and as always we’re open to feedback on how we can improve next year. We always pre-announce the categories to get feedback and then post the nominees a few days before the polls open, to ensure we can add any apps we may have missed. Congratulations to all those who were nominated and good luck! The polls will close on February 12th. Vote Now!


Ohio LinuxFest 2008

I’m just about to leave for the Ohio LinuxFest. This will be my second time attending the event. I had a great time last year and expect I’ll enjoy things once again. If you’re attending and would like to connect, drop me a line. I should be at Barley’s Brewing Company tonight for the pre-party. See you in Columbus.


End Runs Around Vista?

BusinessWeek recently ran an article that indicated that HP may be working on a version of Linux to ship on its hardware:

The ecosystem that Microsoft (MSFT) has built up around its Windows operating system is showing signs of strain. In one of several recent moves by partners that sell or support the company’s software, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), the world’s No. 1 PC maker, has quietly assembled a group of engineers to develop software that will let customers bypass certain features of Vista, the latest version of Windows. Employees on a separate skunk works team are even angling to replace Windows with an HP-assembled operating system, say three sources close to the company.

HP acknowledges the first effort. The company formed the “customer experience” group nine months ago and put at its helm Susie Wee, a former director in the company’s research labs. Her team is developing touchscreen technology and other software that allows users to circumvent Microsoft’s operating system to watch movies or view photos more easily than they can with Vista. “Our customers are looking for insanely simple technology where they don’t have to fight with the technology to get the task done,” says Phil McKinney, chief technology officer in HP’s PC division. After Vista was introduced last year, it drew criticism for slowing down computers and not working smoothly for certain tasks.

McKinney says any discussions about building an operating system to rival Windows are happening below senior-management levels. He doesn’t deny some employees may have had such conversations, but he says HP isn’t devoting substantial resources to such projects. “Is HP funding a huge R&D team to go off and create an operating system? [That] makes no sense,” he says. “For us it’s about innovating on top of Vista.”

Still, the sources say employees in HP’s PC division are exploring the possibility of building a mass-market operating system. HP’s software would be based on Linux, the open-source operating system that is already widely available, but it would be simpler and easier for mainstream users, the sources say. The goal may be to make HP less dependent on Windows and to strengthen HP’s hand against Apple (AAPL), which has gained market share in recent years by offering easy-to-use computers with its own operating system.

HP’s moves come as several of Microsoft’s closest partners are stepping up their support for Windows alternatives.

To be honest, I’m almost surprised that HP or Dell hasn’t done something like this already. It’s clear that consumers do not like Vista and Apple is making huge strides recently. Moving to an in house Linux variant would give an OEM more control over their own destiny, better integration with their own hardware, product differentiation and higher margins. That being said, it would also come with the potentially steep downside of annoying Microsoft, who has proven they are willing to punish OEM’s for seriously considering alternative desktop Operating Systems in the past. We may be reaching a turning point though. At some point soon I think you’ll see that Microsoft just may be more dependent on the OEM’s than the other way around.

So, that brings us to the following question: why is HP letting this news out in this way. It could be a couple of things. It could be testing the waters to see how Microsoft will react. However, it could just be using this as a barging chip to get a better OEM deal on Windows, or more co-marketing dollars out of Microsoft. I’m not sure which direction I’m leaning at the moment, but I think it’s clear that one of the major OEM’s are going to do this very soon. With the recent announcement by Ubuntu that it is going to try to refine the Linux desktop experience to be more inline with the Apple experience, things look to be coming together nicely. The first OEM that sincerely jumps in the water on this one is going to have a significant lead IMHO.


London Stock Exchange crippled by system outage

On a day that would have seen extremely brisk trading volume due to news in the USA, the LSE was down for nearly the entire trading say. From Reuters:

LONDON (Reuters) – The London Stock Exchange (LSE.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) suffered its worst systems failure in eight years on Monday, forcing the world’s third largest share market to suspend trading for about seven hours and infuriating its users.

The problem occurred on what could have been one of London’s busiest trading days of the year, as markets rebounded worldwide following the U.S. government’s decision to bail out mortgage companies Fannie Mae (FNM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Freddie Mac (FRE.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

“We have the biggest takeover in the history of the known world … and then we can’t trade. It’s terrible,” one trader said.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange, which uses the LSE’s trading platform TradElect, also suspended trading.

“This halt today clearly has once again damaged (the LSE’s) reputation as a leading exchange, especially on a day like today, highlighting that it may have been unable to handle the volumes this morning,” added another trader.

But, it wasn’t actually the trading volume that caused the issue:

LONDON, Sept 9 (Reuters) – The London Stock Exchange’s (LSE.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) failure on Monday was down to a software fault rather than high trading volume and has now been resolved, the exchange told Reuters on Tuesday. “It was software-related, a coincidence, due to two processes we couldn’t have foreseen,” a spokeswoman said.

“We’ve introduced a fix and we’re confident it will not happen again.”

She said the fault was not due to high trading volume.

What software stack runs the LSE? Windows 2003, .NET and Microsoft SQL Server. You may remember these ads:reliabletimes

Now, I doubt we’ll ever get any real details on what actually happened. There’s some speculation that an errant application upgrade may have been at fault. Five nines is really difficult to achieve though, and it seems to me that most times you see high profile installs like the LSE that go with a 100% Microsoft stack it’s Microsoft marketing and dollars that lead to the decision – not sound technical recommendations. The NYSE may be feeling a bit better about their recent decision to move to Linux.


Linux popularity across the globe

Royal Pingdom has posted some interesting stats about Linux popularity across the globe, based on Google Insights for Search. From the post:

Some interesting observations

* Ubuntu is most popular in Italy and Cuba.
* OpenSUSE is most popular in Russia and the Czech Republic.
* Red Hat is most popular in Bangladesh and Nepal.
* Debian is most popular in Cuba.
* Cuba is in the top five (interest-wise) of three of the eight distributions in this survey.
* Indonesia is in the top five of four of the distributions.
* Russia and the Czech Republic are in the top five of five of the distributions.
* The United States is not in the top five of any of the distributions.

As an example, here’s the chart for here’s the chart for “Linux popularity in the United States”:

View the full post for more information.


Mobile Broadband and Linux

I finally broke down and ordered a mobile broadband card. I travel enough that I’ve been considering one for a while. The final catalyst for me making the jump is that Sprint has a EVDO USB product that officially supports Linux – the Sprint Franklin U680. The USB device comes with all drivers (Linux, OS X and Windows) stored on the device itself. Simply plug it into your laptop, copy the Linux_Ubuntu folder to your machine, run a command or two (depending on the Linux variant you are running)… and it actually works. Exactly as advertised, the first time I tried. I have to admit I’d purchase quite a few more products if they’d simply support Linux like this. If course if AT&T supported tethering on my phone I wouldn’t need a separate mobile broadband card, but that’s an entirely different post altogether.